June 10, 2019
The Hyde amendment has survived a lot of challenges over the years, but can it survive the new House Democrats? Americans are about to find out.
Starting this Wednesday, Speaker Nancy Pelosi's (D-Calif.) chamber will be back in familiar territory: trying to pass a slew of complicated appropriations bills. To speed up the process, Democrats are using an old trick -- bunding five bills together in one massive package, worth almost $1 trillion dollars. But in a "minibus" that spans everything from Defense to HHS, legislators can hide a lot of things -- including attacks on President Trump's pro-life policy.
"Most Democrats want to repeal Hyde," one former House Appropriations Committee spokesman told the Washington Post. But even they know it would be a steep climb. "While we loathe the amendment, the view was: Okay, let's proceed in this fashion," Rep. Rosa L. DeLauro (D-Conn.) explained. Although Hyde is grabbing headlines in the presidential race, Pelosi's party thinks they'd have better luck overturning the ban on overseas abortion funding (Mexico City Policy), Title X "family planning" restrictions, and zeroing out abstinence education.
That's not to say that some Democrats won't take aim at the 40-year-old ban on taxpayer-funded abortion. According to Roll Call, a group of liberal House Democrats, including Barbara Lee (Calif.), Pramila Jayapal (Wash.), and Ayanna Pressley (Mass.) filed an amendment with the Rules Committee on Friday that would strike the Hyde amendment from the mammoth 667-page bill. "It would also go further, requiring the federal government to 'ensure coverage for abortion care in public health insurance programs' and prevent the federal government, as well as state and local governments, from restricting abortion coverage by private health plans."
That sets up an interesting dilemma for Pelosi's party, who will have to decide just how far Democrats are willing to go to fund their culture of death. Will they go to the mat on Hyde, risking a government shutdown in a few months? Or will people like DeLauro talk sense into the radical wing? Brendan Buck, who worked for former Speaker Paul Ryan tweeted "Watch out." "If you think a long shutdown over immigration was bad, wait until we have one over abortion funding."
Even if abortion extremists prevailed, President Trump has already vowed that he won't sign a single bill that doesn't include Hyde protections. So, just how far are Democrats willing to go to make their point? We'll see.
Meanwhile, former Vice President Joe Biden, who destroyed his "moderate" cred by siding with the party's radicals on abortion funding, is desperately trying to move past the embarrassing triple flip-flop on Hyde. But that's easier said than done, most pundits say. CNN contributor S.E. Cupp couldn't believe the week's events. "Talk about whiplash," she said. And what's to say he won't change his mind on another core value? But that's not even the most troubling thing about it. "Now that Biden has caved to progressives on the Hyde Amendment," Cupp asks, "what's the point of his candidacy exactly?"
"...I thought Biden's raison d'etre in this election was to occupy a moderate lane that far-Left progressives had abandoned over the past few years. I thought he was attempting to capture the forgotten Democrats in the middle of the country. I was told he would speak to working-class Americans that his party had left behind for coastal elites. In flipping on Hyde, he just made himself ideologically indistinguishable from the other 23 candidates." Moderates, she warned, "you've just been dumped."
Regardless of how this affects Biden or any other Democrat, the takeaway for conservatives is simple. This is a make-or-break moment. After decades of bipartisan support, the Hyde amendment -- which managed to survive three liberal administrations -- is the most vulnerable it's ever been. This is a winner-take-all battle we're in, and pro-lifers will need to work harder than they ever had to hold the line. America is with us, but we can't afford to take anything for granted. Not now.
For more on the Biden debacle, check out my interview with Breitbart News Saturday.
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.